AustinChef Reviews CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (1986)

Aahhh Troma movies; the Spirit of guerilla filmmaking lives on to this day with Troma Entertainment films (don’t believe me, go watch Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead). Troma, and its co-founder Lloyd Kaufman, provide the last bastion of independent, fun, over the top, gory genre flicks. Troma has given us such classics as The Toxic Avenger, Terror Firma, Tromeo and Juliet, the abovementioned Poultrygeist, and Troma’s War; produced such Academy Award winners as Mother’s Day and Igor and the Lunatics; and distributed such groaners as Surf Nazis Must Die and Killer Condom. Troma Entertainment movies, especially those written and directed by Lloyd Kaufman, are not for everyone. If you hate toilet humor, excessive gore, lesbians, crazy plotlines, borderline acting, and general gonzo craziness, then you will definitely want to stay away from Troma films. But if you enjoy such delicacies, well come on in, have a seat, and lets talk.

Before getting into the actual movie I’m reviewing here, let me say that Troma films has become a kind of Boot Camp for up and coming filmmakers. If you can survive at Troma, then you just might have what it takes to make it Big Time. It’s not just the anarchy-like feel and craziness of all of Troma’s films. Kaufman has a philosophy and a style that he will forever stay true too. All of Kaufman’s and Troma’s flicks are made on micro budgets. They don’t apply for filming permits to shoot in New Jersey and New York City … they just do it. Need a ten minute shot of a guy completely naked running around in downtown New York with his junk giggling all over? What, you forgot to get the permits? Fuck it. Just film it!!! And what is so impressive is that by now I’m sure bigger studios have approached Uncle Lloyd with the seduction of bigger budgets and bigger named actors and actresses (his movies are fiercely successful especially with their modest budgets). But in true Uncle Lloyd fashion I can just hear him telling some bigwig studio exec to fuck themselves and “suck on my balls” as he delivers a barrage of wet farts on their Armani suits. Kaufman doesn’t compromise and won’t give in to The Machine.

That said Kaufman and Troma Films have given us such genre talents as James Gunn and Joe Lynch. Gunn, who wrote and directed 2006’s Slither and wrote the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, started as a writer for Troma (he contributed as writer on both Terror Firmer and Tromeo and Juliet). Lynch, who directed the highly entertaining Wrong Turn 2, began his career with Troma films as a grip and an actor in Terror Firmer.

Ok; I’m gonna get off my soap box about greatness of Troma Films and Uncle Lloyd. Onto the reason you are reading this posting: The review of Class of Nuke ‘Em High. This and Toxic Avenger are the two best early Troma outings. I have a special place in my heart for both of these movies, but in particular Nuke ‘Em High. Nuke ‘Em was the first Troma flick I even saw. I rented it back in the days before Blockbuster Video cornered the market on movie rentals and all the Ma and Pa corner video stores were competing with each other. The successful places had the goriest movies, and THAT’S the kinda place I found this gem. I rented it based solely on the video cover art which showed a half-naked chick in leather being hugged by some mutant-goon with the picture of a monster in the background. Love it!!! And unlike most other video cover art, this one had all these elements in the movie AND MORE. What more could a 16 year old boy ask for??

The story here begins in Tromaville with the local nuclear power plant springing a leak. The toxic waste is absorbed into the ground and finds its way to the (very) nearby high school. The water is contaminated and we see students drinking the thick, green jello-like polluted water out of the fountain. The effects of such pollution are pretty mild and barely noticeable (yeah, right!!). The honor society, once the preppies of the school, are now a vicious and violent gang of mutants who beat and make everyone’s lives at the school miserable. And don’t even ask about the AV Club!!! Even some teachers become seduced to the mutant side and dress and act slutty (all for our entertainment, of course).

Amidst all these bizarre characters is Chrissy and Warren, white-bread high school sweethearts a little on the “goody-goody” side. They’ve been dating for a while and when their friends realize they haven’t banged each other yet they step in to help the two lovers. Warren’s buddy buys some weed that was grown at the contaminated power plant and gives it to the cute couple to smoke and to help “grease the gears.” It works … all too well. The weed gives them an “Atomic High” and basically turns Warren’s load into “super sperm.” Within days Chrissy gestates a little mutant baby that she vomits into the toilets at school and which gets flushed. Oh yes folks; we’re into some truly bizarre territory here. As weird as it sounds, the fast paced-direction, the collection of odd-ball characters, and the actors involved make this really fun.

Say what you will about Troma and Uncle Lloyd, but that man knows how to find and cast young, cute, and very innocent looking girls in the lead roles. Don’t believe me? Check out actress Kate Graham (the lead in Poultrygeist) and Jane Jensen (the lead in Tromeo and Juliet). And here Janelle Brady, who plays Chrissy, is a true 1980’s babe. She’s cute and a bit of a bimbo but underneath the surface there is a bad girl bubbling to get out.

The story takes a lot of truly bizarre twists and turns. The mutant ex-honor students get expelled from school and decide to come back, heavily armed of course, for some fun. They blame Warren for their expulsion, so they kidnap Chrissy to lure him into the evacuated school. Oh but wait … that little mutant tadpole Chrissy puked up is all grown up now. This has an ending that must be seen to be believed!!

Like all Troma releases, this movie never for one second takes itself seriously. It’s full of toilet humor, bodily fluids, and full of gratuitous gore. Good family fun. If you haven’t seen this one in a while (or even worse, haven’t seen it at all) do yourself a favor: Call some buddies over, make some green jello shots, grab your favorite bong, and have a blast! Don’t miss this one.

Directors: Richard Haines, Michael Herz, & Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 7 out of 10 skulls
Zombies: 0 out of 5 brains

4 Responses to “AustinChef Reviews CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH (1986)”

  1. They have some serious Toxic Waste issues in Tromaville!!

    Haven’t seen ‘Class of Nuke Em High’ in a really, really long time! Thanks for reminding about this one…the monster alone is worth a revisit! I will definitely have to watch this again soon!

  2. austinchef08 Says:

    It’s one of those movies ya forget about and when ya finally stumble upon again you remember how much fun it is.

  3. I have sadly never seen this, somehow I feel this makes me a very bad man indeed. After that high praising review I’ll be looking for this one. I need to get me some more Troma stuff, I’ve seen very little but I noticed that Poultrygeist is hitting Blu Ray soon. I’ll be picking that one up for sure.

  4. austinchef08 Says:

    If you love Troma movies you will FRIGGIN’ LOVE Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead!!! Poultrygeist is Kaufman’s Citizen Kane. An odd comparison but pretty fitting 🙂

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